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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Forthcoming Series Fiction List and General Comments on Series in Libraries

In what will now become a relentless plugging of my appearance at PLA in MArch of 2012 (yes, I will be mentioning this for 6 more months!), I wanted to pass on a list by Janet Husband of eSquels who is the program's organizer and moderator.

Forthcoming Series Fiction appears on the fabulous eSquels blog.  It is too long to reproduce here, so click on over if you are interested.

From an RA standpoint, this list is helpful for collection development.  I will take it and make sure that I have the books we need at the BPL on order.  It is also useful to hand over to patrons who love series.

Finally, the sheer length of the list speaks volumes about the popularity of series titles in book publishing today.  It doesn't just feel like every book is part of a series, they almost all actually are.

Series are a safe bet for readers and publishers. Readers like knowing in advance what to expect.  If they like a series already, or really like certain characters, they like knowing that they can revisit them in a new book.  Publishers know readers feel this way and can feel more confident making a profit with a new series installment than with taking a chance on a new author.

Unfortunately, series are becoming a real problem for libraries.  They are hard to shelve in order.  Unless you are Sue Grafton, an author's series order does not match the libraries alphabetical order to shelve the books.  As a result, we librarians spend a lot of time printing off series order sheets for readers.  I don't mind, but I wish there were an easy way for patrons to help themselves.

But also, in sections like Mystery, Science Fiction, and Fantasy, the series overwhelm the great stand alone options which are like small cabooses cowering next to the freight trains of series bearing down on them.

I don't know how to fix this problem, but I do know that being aware of it is the first step.  Make sure your patrons are aware too.  How? Suggest non-series options to readers looking for something new.  Make lists of great non-series options in Mystery, Science Fiction, and Fantasy.  Or, do a display to highlight it further.  How about all three?

Just be aware that there is a fine balancing act going on between series and non series reading options and be prepared to promote and purchase for both.

1 comment:

Lizzy said...

At our library, our great fiction selector, Liz, has created little bookmarks with popular series titles in order. She has these affixed to the shelves by the books. I think it's a great way to give the patrons what they want, where they want it.